This is written almost like a screenplay. Present tense, no exposition, no thoughts or mind-reading of the characters, no background presented. If you haven't read anything like this before, it can be difficult to get used to.
The first chapter is probably the worst, just a setup for "this guy is a con artist" and it's almost worth skipping. Which is too bad since the worst chapter is your first experience of the book. I stopped and started a few times until I got through it. The rest of the book is a lot better than that first chapter.
After awhile you get used to the present tense writing, and the fact that it does not delve too much into the thoughts of the characters make you feel like you are there with them, not knowing what they are thinking or why, but you learn about the characters as you go along. This requires a little more thinking on the part of the reader.
In the end, it is a good, Ocean's 11 type story about a team of thieves and con-artists who team up to fight evil, so they can get back to thieving without having to worry about their targets being killed off or destroyed. If you've ever wondered how to make a good campaign featuring nearly-evil heroes, this is it.
And the Paladins are a great bunch, just what you expect them to be. Except for some near the end who are actually pretty good. In addition you get to see some characters from other books pop in and see what has happened to them since the last book featuring the WorldWound.
About halfway through I finally realized this is a coming-of-age novel about a young boy who has to take on adult responsibilities a little early. Not only that, but I feel based on the tone, the vocabulary, and the really laying the plot on thick to make sure you get it, that this is for younger readers.
I only got halfway through the book and simply was not interested in the rest. But still 3 stars, it is pretty interesting. I picked it up because I had not read anything about the River Kingdoms yet, and it also featured my favorite country: Ustalav.
This provides a spooky, mysterious and exciting addition to the Haunting of Harrowstone. It also provides opportunities for characters to earn more Trust Points in Ravengro, which many groups have a problem with. But it also can stand alone as a module for 4 1st-2nd level characters.
It has everything: spooky children, attacking ghost birds, secret cults, a raving madman, mind control, and scene right out of Alien. There are plenty of ways to "solve" the mystery for both very good players or "murderhobo" types. I actually used this adventure as a springboard for a conspiracy campaign centered on the Night Heralds. When you see the monster at the end you will understand how it can easily connect with them instead of the Whispering Way, if you wish it to.
Out of the 4 books I've read so far, this is the most exciting. Skinwalkers is the only book I almost couldn't put down and finished. If you enjoyed the movie 13th Warrior you should enjoy this book, it has many of the same themes. And while that may make it not entirely original, the author does a great job. When I read the acknowledgements and realized this is her first novel I was even more impressed.
The characters are believable and fleshed out. Moreover all the main characters are female, which is nice to see women being portrayed as normal, 3 dimensional people rather than afterthoughts. If you want fiction for a daughter that is not typical romance or girl waiting for the boy to rescue her, then look into this.
The main character is well fleshed out, with an interesting rage problem that is not belittling to her like some angry stereotypes are, but rather seems to be an exploration of what it's like to be a barbarian (the class in Pathfinder, that is).
I am not sure what people's complaints about violence are all about. There is a lot of action in this book, that is true, but the descriptions are not gruesome or gory. Maybe people are disturbed by her anger, or that the author writes about the feelings of the characters as they fight and those feelings are disturbing. I was disturbed reading Nightgalss, but not this book.
Highly recommended. If you love the Norse mythologies, lycanthropes, you should love this.